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      This is something I really struggle with. On one hand it is good that there is a possibility that other people can read what I wrote. It helps me to make that extra step to verify my thoughts. Almost always this causes me to learn something, because I had sort of the right idea, but also missed aspects.

      On the other hand it can go too far. That I hold things back because of the reasons outlined. I start to think too much about the format and whether I will be able to keep it up.

      What has helped me so far to keep a good balance between the two is to get rid of all trackers, counters and logs that could indicate if there is an audience. Avoid any risks of developing some kind of vanity. Now the expectation is that nothing will happen with what I write. Except for that person that explicitly was searching for something I wrote about. And I want to take inspiration from a more “shotgun” approach like Rubenerd has. Sometimes I come across someone that references a post of mine, and all is good.

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        What has helped me so far to keep a good balance between the two is to get rid of all trackers, counters and logs that could indicate if there is an audience.

        I completely agree. I’ve posted two relatively popular blog posts using GitHub pages (mainly because I trusted it wouldn’t go down and I didn’t want any cookie warnings), and have no view counts to show for it. Sometimes I wish I had, because it would have been a nice reminder during some low points that I can actually provide something useful to the world, but overall I’d rather focus on the actual fun of finding things out than the societal validation of view counts.

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        Great point. And funny, was thinking about this topic too as soon as I published this post and on my run today listening to Malcolm Gladwell’s podcast. He mentioned how a recent podcast episode of theirs didn’t land like they wanted to. It came off as being too much of a sponsored post. I think what really helps about avoiding worrying about the impact size (or lack thereof) is committing to the cadence of it all. Like Malcolm, some things just aren’t gonna land, but if you commit to some kind of cadence: episodes per season, post per week, whatever. It helps remove the worry about what impact the last thing had if you know you are just going to show up anyways next week regardless.

        Thanks for mentioning this.

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      I like the conclusion – don’t push away small ideas, don’t get discouraged, etc – but the leftPad story doesn’t strike me as an ideal homily for this lesson.

      Meaning, had I been the author of leftPad (anyone on this site could have been) I would not have taken its use by millions as any kind of reflection of my impact or worth. It’s just a quirk of node culture, the happenstance of String not having something built in, and some coincidence of viral spread. That it was used by so many doesn’t actually change its worth in my eyes… I still wouldn’t be proud of the code or feel I had accomplished something meaningful with it.

      Small things can lead to big things, meaningfully – “a journey of a thousand step starts with….”. Or maybe you will publish something that is meaningful to a small audience, or even one person. Or maybe you just need to publish it, to at least see, even if you fail to touch anyone else. Those seem like more substantial reasons not to feel insignificant.

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        To me the funny thing about left-pad is the fact that it appears to have caused padStart to finally get added to the language. Turns out that at least one extremely high chaos way of influencing the tc39 committee does exist and work.

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      Worries about significance are more a problem in art and other types of entertainment than in software, I feel. In those you have to be able to “hit the high notes” to make something really great. In software you can make something really great by just exploring & dumping a lot of labor into it over a long period of time. There is endless work that needs to be done. Who is going to do it? You can. Maybe you won’t be a programmer-household name like John Carmack or Edsger Dijkstra but honestly who cares about that, that sort of awareness accumulation is (1) largely a product of chance feedback loops and (2) irrelevant, who cares whether people who don’t understand your work have heard of your work.

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        I disagree about art being a judgement on technical ability. There’s a baseline, just like programming “you have to have a working program”.. but beyond that, its much more about polish & feel, just like you describe software.

        I wouldn’t describe it has hard work, as in dreadful long hours endlessly trying to attain something. But gradual, slow progress until eventually the pieces fit. Both processes are slow, but one will kill you, the other is rather enjoyable.

        I find people who say programming is hard work, tend to mean that software should be like that first approach, i thought this too & not being able to put in those hours made me feel inadequate & a failure, but i found its simply not true.

        These days i put in the hours, but never dreadfully push through, only when i enjoy it.

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      There’s so much work that needs to be done well, which means there’s plenty of work for you to do well. Focus more on that than what the comment section thinks, because they aren’t the ones actually arbitrating your success, they’re mostly just making noise.

      Also: kill your tech idols. They’re just people who have worked hard, been lucky to be in the right place at the right time, and had the privilege to hold onto a wave for long enough to become known.